How Does Ketoacidosis Cause Dehydration

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis And Hyperglycaemic Hyperosmolar State

The hallmark of diabetes is a raised plasma glucose resulting from an absolute or relative lack of insulin action. Untreated, this can lead to two distinct yet overlapping life-threatening emergencies. Near-complete lack of insulin will result in diabetic ketoacidosis, which is therefore more characteristic of type 1 diabetes, whereas partial insulin deficiency will suppress hepatic ketogenesis but not hepatic glucose output, resulting in hyperglycaemia and dehydration, and culminating in the hyperglycaemic hyperosmolar state. Hyperglycaemia is characteristic of diabetic ketoacidosis, particularly in the previously undiagnosed, but it is the acidosis and the associated electrolyte disorders that make this a life-threatening condition. Hyperglycaemia is the dominant feature of the hyperglycaemic hyperosmolar state, causing severe polyuria and fluid loss and leading to cellular dehydration. Progression from uncontrolled diabetes to a metabolic emergency may result from unrecognised diabetes, sometimes aggravated by glucose containing drinks, or metabolic stress due to infection or intercurrent illness and associated with increased levels of counter-regulatory hormones. Since diabetic Continue reading >>

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  1. jlr820, BSN

    Yes it is. The bloodstream is absolutely full of glucose (since it isn't entering cells and being metabolized). This glucose load makes the blood HYPERosmolar and the kidneys respond by trying to remove glucose through urination. They cannot effectively deal with the large glucose load, and that's why glucose "spills" into the urine. The process of excessive urine output secondary to the large glucose load is called osmotic diuresis, and the client loses a HUGE amount of fluid through this diuretic effect, leading to profound dehydration.

  2. NRSKarenRN

    check out these prior posts:
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  3. ghurricane

    Thanks so much!! Here is another oddity that makes no sense. I know there is potassium depletion due to frequent urination, but why do labs usually indicate hyperkalemia?

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